The Art of the Ghost in the Shell Book Review

The Ghost in the Shell…the cyberpunk soaked storyline that has captivated it’s audience for nearly 30 years. It has moved from manga to anime to the big screen. It’s a creative property that most of the fan base are quite rabid over.

Understandably so. In its earliest form it was part science-fiction part philosophical text. It questioned what it was to be human,  very much like it’s progenitor Blade Runner and The Matrix that followed.

In an age of recent and burgeoning A.I. hysteria The Ghost in the Shell is even more topical now.

The movie became its own thing and faced its own set of contentions, weathering claims of white washing (possibly deserved) and not doing justice to the property.

We disagree with the latter at least. At 1 hour and 47 minutes it was really never going to scratch the byzantine surface of this remarkable cyberpunk world but it did a damn good job in trying and we enjoyed the film greatly. But what is the art book like?

We’ve opened the covers, had a good look and we share our thoughts here.

Initially the impression is outstanding. This is a Titan Books production and it is quality throughout. The cover is a wonderfully bold detailed image of a cyber geisha as seen in the movie.

The introduction by WETA workshop founder Richard Taylor is promising for what lies ahead. He and his crew clearly have a great deal of love for TGITS universe.

The image quality is astounding throughout with very little exception.  It is wonderful to see the development of Kusanagi and the world she inhabits and the book does justice to how much work and effort occurred behind the scenes.

There are fascinating insights on location scouting. The final location for the majority filming was Wellington, NZ or as it is called in the book Wellingkong. It seems the budget couldn’t afford London or Berlin and so more power to the Kiwis who’s show not just great creativity in the cinematic arts but fantastic entrepreneurship!

There is nothing new about the ‘sologram’ or so called solid hologram that the movie uses to adorn it’s cityscapes but nevertheless that is also an interesting chapter.

What we absolutely loved in the book is the way it details the integration of old school physical modelling, coupled with modern computer imagery. It’s nice to see that the director in his own words prefers ‘shooting amid the textures and details of real streets.’ This artistic philosophy carries through on every part of this movie and in this book. We can see a beautiful integration of prosthetics models and CG which is very welcome in a movie market saturated with almost solely computer generated over-the-top affairs with very little substance.

The concept art is also wonderful. It is excellent to see the evolution of the robot geisha, one of our favourite things about the movie. In particular, we were delighted at the attention to detail in their costumes. But not only costumes designed for the robot geisha but for the citizens of the so-called Wellingkong.

Hats off to Kurt Swanson and Bart Mueller. It seems to be getting particularily rare to see such imaginative costuming. But Swanson and Mueller put their flare on display with every thread and stitch.

Does this look like David Bowie to you?


The book covers characters, constructing the future, locations, cinematography, action sequences and is capped off with a thoughtful conclusion.

Our one and only criticism,  common to books of this type, is that we would like to have seen some more detailed writing backing up the subject matter, though text is not as scarce as in so many similar books.

We thoroughly recommend you purchase The Art of the Ghost in the Shell by Titan Books. It goes beyond a meer coffee table book towards something fans of science fiction will truly appreciate for years to come!

Stay tuned over the next couple of months as we look at more titles from Titan Books including the new Blade Runner 2049 art book!


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